Hey everybody! I'm back after a long weekend away (did anybody miss me?) in Bellevue, WA, visiting the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX, for those of us in the know). Joystiq did a great job of covering the whole event (and I wrote up my own PAXperience), but they left one question unanswered: where was WoW?
Not at PAX, apparently. MMO makers Mythic and NCSoft made a nice showing (more on that in a second), but Blizzard didn't have any official presence at all at what is quickly becoming one of the bigger public gaming events. I did see a few neat t-shirts (and one awesome guy who pinned his name and server on his back, but walked away before I could snap a picture), and hear a shoutout during a Q&A panel to the PA guild on Dark Iron (last item), but Blue and the Burning Crusade were nowhere to be seen. Maybe that means that six million players is enough for Blizzard, or maybe it means they really do want to get the expansion out before the year ends.
But while WoW was missing, there were plenty of WoW competitors there. I got to play Guild Wars, Lineage II, and Auto Assault at the NCSoft booth (and got free copies of each, thanks!), D&D Online from Turbine, and I was able to check out and play an early alpha of the WoW clone (or killer, depending on who you talk to), Warhammer Online. I asked a guy from Mythic exactly what the difference between WHO and WoW will be, and he said they'd like to make a game that lets a player completely focus on PVP, rather than having PVP as just one element. Unfortunately, playing it seemed to me to be a little too much like Dark Age of Camelot (which Mythic is also responsible for), and it just didn't have that polished and shiny Blizzard magic, early alpha or not. So, is it possible to surpass World of Warcraft? From what I saw at PAX, not yet.